Philosophy in the Service of People

Pieter Tijmes

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    2 Citations (Scopus)


    I begin with a methodological point that refers to Albert Borgmann’s claim to realism. My objection is that he is sleeping around methodologically. Borgmann is a realist in his version of phenomenology when he describes focal things and practices; he seems to be a constructivist Weberian when he discusses the device paradigm. Reality within this approach is different from reality brought to light within a phenomenological approach. Next, I reconsider his concept of focal things and practices. My critique of focal things and practices is, of course, not a denial of particular practices, such as running, gardening, or the culture of the table as such, but a certain curtailment of the meaning and relevance Albert Borgmann attributes to them. Focal things and practices tell him too much, in my opinion. Finally, I offer Borgmann a scarcity paradigm—not as a substitution but as a complement to the device paradigm. The underlying assumption is that our contemporary life is not exclusively characterized by technology. On the contrary, its dynamics can be explained more elegantly by mimetic desire and the resulting process of scarcity. In the light of these paradigms contemporary life can be interpreted more appropriately.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)175-189
    Number of pages15
    JournalTechnology in society
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


    • Device paradigm
    • Focal things and practices
    • Scarcity
    • Mimetic desire


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